Toilet drama at elite horse show

2014-07-24 00:00

GROOMS at an elite horse dressage competition — where competitors are known to arrive in helicopters — were expected to use bathrooms covered in human faeces.

The grooms — who provide round-the-clock care for the competing horses — were forced to wash in a bucket and relieve themselves in the nearby veld.

But the Durban Shongweni Club’s manager Jason Johnson has distanced the club from any responsibility, blaming the “users” of the loo for its current state.

The club is hosting the South African Dressage Championships sponsored by Land Rover.

The conditions — which have been circulated on social media — angered competitors who have insisted that their stable hands use the plush clubhouse facilities while one competitor even hired portable toilets.

A South African horse exporter and top dressage competitor Candice Hobday called the conditions “fu***n disgusting and a human rights issue”.

“I reported this on Tuesday. I said if it is not good enough for me then it is not good enough for my groom,” said Hobday.

“I was appalled. It was only after I made enough noise did management open up the ablution block used by the rugby club, but these were eventually locked at night. They then cleaned the ablution block but it is still in a terrible state,” said Hobday.

A visit by The Witness yesterday revealed human excrement still running along the ablution floor. The showers had no privacy at all and the toilet doors were old, ragged shower curtains. Puddles of sewage had settled on the floor but the smell had been disguised by strong disinfectants.

“Grooms look after every facet of the horse from feeding, cleaning and preparing.”

Admitting the dressage was an elitist sport with horses costing in excess of R350 000, Hobday said often the competitors don’t check the equine groom facilities.

Groom Moses Modise, who works in Johannesburg, has travelled the country extensively but called the block the “worst I have ever seen”.

“I have never seen a facility like this. We have been using the club house toilets in the meantime,” he said.

Mike Ndlovu, a groom from Kyalami, said he “didn’t expect this”.

Horse owner Jaco Theron from Parys said: “The grooms can’t use the toilets or showers. I had no idea about the state of the ablutions.”

But Johnson has blamed the users of the loos.

“We repaired them recently, upgrading the showers, plastering and painting the wall and got new geysers and urinals.

“We repair them regularly but the users don’t take care of the facility. When we unblocked the loo this week we found newspaper, straw and shavings in the loo,” said Johnson.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

073 227 6075

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